Two things coincided last week. My first zucchini from the garden (hurray!) and my daughter Sophie getting two wisdom teeth removed (not so hurray!). She had them yanked in Rome, where we live, and my husband Domenico picked her up directly from the dentist and brought her to Todi, in Umbria where I'd been spending the week at our country house.
Knowing Sophie, I realized the main thing she would be worried about was what she was going to eat while recuperating. Sophie is, to put it mildly, a good eater. This means she not only eats a lot, but thinks about what she is going to eat and is very demanding when it comes to quality.
Anyway, by the time she arrived I knew she was going to be famished, since they hadn’t allowed her to eat since the night before. I knew I had to have something filling and delicious - but liquid - waiting for her.
My first zucchini from the garden provided the answer. Here follows the recipe for the soup she immediately slurped up. I knew I had to make it filling and feel like more than just baby food, so I added a heaping spoonful of sheep’s milk ricotta to each serving. I served it chilled (there is a heat wave going on here, and also Sophie couldn’t eat warm food) but I imagine it would be equally delicious warm.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 large, ripe tomato, chopped
- 2 medium-sized zucchini (about 1/2 pound), chopped
- 2 cups broth (I used vegetable, but any will do)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup ricotta*
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- Fresh herbs like basil, dill or tarragon, for garnish
- *I used pure sheep's milk ricotta, from a local farmer, very rich and creamy.
Heat the olive oil in a pan, then add the shallot, onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chopped tomato, and stir another five minutes. Add chopped zucchini, stir, then add broth. Bring to a boil and let simmer until zucchini is just cooked, about 10–15 minutes. Season as needed.
Let cool, then puree. If you are going to serve it chilled, put it in the refrigerator.
Just before serving, add ricotta and whisk in until it dissolves. Add the lemon juice and stir. Top with fresh herbs if you’d like, and a drizzle of olive oil on top of each serving.
Variations: Since I had such great zucchini (small and full of flavor) and incredible ricotta, I didn't have to jazz things up that much. But feel free to play around. I'm sure next time I'll add a hot pepper from the garden. But remember, don't load in other vegetables. You don't want it tasting like minestrone (or maybe you do? But then this recipe's not for you).
This recipe originally appeared on my blog: Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome.